Let’s talk about COVID for a few minutes.
It seems to me that the epidemic has clearly exposed a number of contradictions in the thought process and the actions of many American Christians.
Across the US, 674,000 Americans died from COVID between March 2020 and September 2021. That’s very nearly the same number of infants who were never born because of abortion during the same time frame. Many of those COVID deaths were among the weak and infirm.
Yet the very group that is the most vocal about stopping abortion is also the group agitating the loudest against masking and vaccination and activity restrictions.
That same group has also been the one historically arguing the loudest against the pro-abortion “my body, my choice” position. But they are also the very same ones who are now pushing back the hardest against mask requirements, vaccine mandates, and venues that require proof of vaccination to enter. It’s gotten so upside down that numerous evangelical pastors around America have even forbidden masked people from entering their churches, and telling them that they’re going to hell if they get vaccinated.
The very group that for years has vigorously opposed voluntary euthanasia because they say it violates the sanctity of human life – even though it’s voluntary – is now quite actively opposing measures explicitly designed to save the lives of millions of elderly and frail among us.
In short, the Christian pro-fetal-life lobby has suddenly taken a decidedly non-pro-life position for those already born.
From my perspective, anyone who claims to be “pro-life” should be doing everything possible to reduce the risk of COVID affecting those around us, just as vocally as fighting to reduce abortions or euthanasia.
Why the Opposition?
Is the difference that anti-COVID measures require personal inconvenience and self-sacrifice?
Truth be told, for many years, opposing abortion or euthanasia or “my body, my choice” only has really involved adjusting how we vote and maybe giving a bit more money to our church or a local pregnancy care center. Not much personal sacrifice has been required for the average Christian to feel good about their position. In short, we pro-life Christians have been very vocal without much other change in our lives. Very few have deeply sacrificed for the pro-life cause.
Just like the racism debates of the last year, anti-COVID measures have exposed some things about us that I think that we would rather not admit. I’d go so far – as many atheists and agnostics and even liberal Christians have – in calling it rank hypocrisy.
It’s therefore very unsurprising to me how many of my fellow Christians are actively and very vocally walking away from the evangelical branch of the American church. Just like the unbelivers, they see it for what it is, and are unwilling to support it any longer.
As I discussed in a previous post titled “How to Cause a Revolution,” it’s clear to me that our own choices are making Christianity deeply noxious to those around us. We need to change, and I think the Lord is speaking that message to any who will hear. And the response cannot be “Let’s stop talking about divisive things, and focus on the Lord, and He will bring change.” Change starts with a call to repentance. I think the Lord has already started speaking to His church, and it begins with
If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray and seek my face
and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will hear from heaven,
and I will forgive their sin
and will heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)
It’s our same God who said in Isaiah 1,
11 “The multitude of your sacrifices —
what are they to me?” says the Lord.
“I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.
12 When you come to appear before me,
who has asked this of you,
this trampling of my courts?
13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations —
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals
I hate with all my being.
They have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands in prayer,
I hide my eyes from you;
even when you offer many prayers,
I am not listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
16 Wash and make yourselves clean.
Take your evil deeds out of my sight;
stop doing wrong.
17 Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.
21 See how the faithful city
has become a prostitute!
She once was full of justice;
righteousness used to dwell in her —
but now murderers! (NIV)
This is a strong word, but I think it’s critical that we pay attention. All our religious services and our talk of freedom to worship mean nothing to the Lord, in the face of the hypocrisy and bloodshed and failure to defend the weak. He even says He finds them detestable and unbearable.
So I pray:
Lord, be patient with us, change our hearts, and help us to see Your ways and hear Your voice, and turn back to You before Your justice must be unleashed upon us.
3 Replies to “COVID Contradictions”
You write clearly and thoughtfully, as always. I agree with you that it is ridiculous for any pastor to make masks, or the lack thereof, an issue of faith or trust. I don’t read much in the Bible about viruses or pandemics or masks, but I do read about listening to one another and giving one another grace.
How do you define reducing the risk? Should we completely isolate from one another until it is over? If not, why not? Since complete isolation from one another might be the most effective means of stopping Covid in its tracks, why not take this unprecedented step?
Of course, complete isolation, effective as it may be, is not the answer, because it carries myriad risks and downsides. One of my patients in the hospital, who is a clinical psychologist for the County, as is her wife (so I am guessing she is not a right-leaning Trumpist), said the damage we are doing to our children through masking and isolation is deeply damaging and measurable. The incidences of everything from depression and anxiety to various types of abuse at home, are skyrocketing.
Doctors are also wondering what a year and a half of masking will do the our children’s immune systems. As you well know, our immune system develops in part through regular exposure to germs. By masking our children, we are setting them up for a future of underdeveloped immune systems, with all the downsides.
Back to your point though. What do you consider to be doing everything possible? Since we live in a world where we simply cannot control everything, what do you feel are the appropriate steps to take? As a hospital Chaplain, I have spent considerable time in the room with more than 200 COVID patients, most of whom are not masked (on oxygen), and many of whom cough or sneeze while I am in the room. I was vaccinated in January (Moderna), but have never been fearful. That is because I properly gown up and put my trust in the Lord. Same as when I lived in the Mpumalanga Province (South Africa), where it was 35-40% HIV positive. I took all the precautions I knew to take, and put my life in God’s care.
I disagree with the view that says, “Your not getting vaccinated or masking is putting me at risk.” That may be true for second hand cigarette smoke, and to a degree with COVID, but if one is concerned about one’s health, the best thing to do is get vaccinated, wear one’s own mask, and be mindful about where one goes.
Thanks for your posts. You always make me think about the subject, and in a manner that honors God.
As to psychological damage to children, I think it would be hard to prove that damage is from masking requirements, as compared to the overall effects of the pandemic. In that case, it is what it is. That case is being widely made, but generally by those opposed to masking, not by independent studies. However, if you have specific science to which you can point, I’ll certainly read it.
As far as “you must do this in public” effects on children, I have not seen explained how masking differs from any other requirement we place on children’s behavior. Note that some Eastern cultures are quite accustomed to full-time masking in public already. And their kids are generally seen as far superior to American kids in socialization and scholastics.
As to damaging children’s ability to read emotions in faces, which is the only believable aspect I’ve seen, the kids ought to be getting that kind of mental training in the safe “pod” with family. It’s actually similar to the argument about homeschooling, and damaging impacts to children who are not around a large group of peers every day. That argument is always attacked by Christian homeschool advocates, yet in this case, they’re using it against masking. Ironic.
I also haven’t seen any information I considered trustworthy about masking effects on immunity. I’ve only seen it promoted seriously by those with known anti-vaccination and COVID-denial agendas. The infections commonly caught from airborne viruses against which masks protect – flu and cold – are not things we become immune to anyway; both are recurrent infections (I can provide references if you need). If we’re worried about that, why are we struggling to come up with a common cold vaccine, and a permanent flu vaccine, and promoting the imperfect flu vaccines we do have? This is self-contradictory.
Furthermore, poorly-fitted masks (which is 99% of kids) don’t really do much to prevent the wearer from infection. They do have some positive effect on trapping sputum and droplets from sneezes and coughs, thus protecting their classmates and friends. So there’s arguably no significant impact on the wearer’s immunity.
Also, most of the immune system stuff that matters has nothing to do with masking. It’s (inadvertently) eating dirt, and poor hand hygiene, and touching your face, etc.
So I consider this immunity argument against masking children to be specious.
“Everything possible” includes vaccination (which too many Christians, especially certain faith groups, are opposing), masking (which has proven benefits even if we discuss children separately), appropriate choices of where to go and what to do in high-infection areas (like, unmasked church services with loud singing is a really bad idea), appropriate physical distancing when possible, and other measures long suggested by the CDC and repeatedly proven effective.
As to “your getting vaccinated,” it seems to me that you’re arguing with every trustworthy epidemiologist out there. When there are more infections in an area, everyone is at higher risk. There is currently about a 10% breakthrough rate locally from Delta variant infections, so even if I’m vaccinated I’m not necessarily immune. And even vaccinated, I still have a tangible risk of hospitalization, although much lower than if unvaccinated (here in my county about 20% of breakthru cases end up hospitalized, so about 2% compared to all the cases). Also, Delta has been proven to become infectious before symptoms appear. If you don’t get vaccinated and you get sick, and we spend time in close proximity, my chances of getting infected shoot up. And the chance of other unvaccinated people getting infected is of course ridiculously high now. So yes, a person’s choice to not vaccinate endangers others around them, even those of us who are vaccinated. There’s zero question of this in my mind.
One other thought. While I agree with trusting God for my health, I think that begins with taking known measures to protect ourselves and others. Otherwise, I think we’re in this territory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SGXZYinnaM